Hello, fight fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up, where we look back at the week that was and look ahead to the week that is in the world of mixed martial arts. It was a quiet week as the majority of the MMA world took the week off for Thanksgiving, but that will change this week as we head into a busy month of December, so let’s dive right in to all of the happenings.
Looking Back at a quiet Thanksgiving weekend
- Ali Abdelaziz said this week that he expects Henry Cejudo to return to action in 2022, saying he believes “100 percent” that Cejudo will fight next year. He does manage Cejudo, and says that Cejudo wants to fight Alexander Volkanovski in his return and have a chance to become the first fighter to win UFC titles in three different weight classes. He said that Cejudo could fight as soon as February, but it’s going to have to take everyone coming together in a meeting for it to happen. It would be a big fight for Cejudo to return to, and there’s not really any other contender ready at featherweight outside of Max Holloway, who Volkanovski has beaten twice. Abdelaziz also said if Cejudo returns and wins, or even loses, that he doesn’t expect it to be a one-and-done, and that there is a desire to compete for Cejudo. Cejudo did just celebrate the birth of his first child with his fiancée.
- Conor McGregor did an impromptu Q&A session on Twitter on Saturday night, with a couple of notable things being brought up. The major news coming out from it was when McGregor said he expects to start sparring again in April, with his return to competition expected to come shortly thereafter. Everything lines up for him to return to action in July. He did say he expects and wants to fight Nate Diaz in their trilogy bout one day, and that he sees holes in UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman’s game, and would like to be the one to expose them. He also said, earlier in the week, that he’d be getting a title shot upon his return, which everyone knows isn’t the case. He also said he only has two fights left on his current UFC contract, but that he’s UFC for life, so I guess that’s his way of saying he’ll sign a new deal when the time comes. So, there’s are Conor update for the week.
- Speaking of the UFC Lightweight Championship, it appears that the line has been cleared for Justin Gaethje to be the official next challenger to face the winner of the UFC 269 bout between current UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira and his challenger, Dustin Poirier. A fight between Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev, two other lightweight contenders in the mix, was announced as the main event of a UFC Fight Night card on 2/26, leaving Gaethje as the only logical option for who is next in line.
- Two fighters talked about switching weight classes this week, with one officially making a move: Kevin Holland will be moving down to the welterweight division when he returns in 2022, which is the right move because he’s always been undersized at middleweight. Dan Hooker has said he expects to fight at featherweight when he makes his return next year, but that isn’t 100 percent. Hooker fought as a featherweight when he first signed a UFC contract, but then moved up to lightweight, where he had lots of success. However, he’s lost three of his last four at 155 lbs., knocking him out of the title picture, and a move down could get him back in the mix.
- UFC tried to put a fight together between welterweight contenders Gilbert Burns and Vicente Luque, but both men turned the idea down as they are teammates and close friends, and said they’d only fight each other for “life changing money”. I get why they don’t want to fight, but there is a real logjam at the top of the welterweight division, and it’s going to be hard to get either man an opponent in the foreseeable future.
- Two fighters have undergone very public battles with COVID-19 over the past week. Matt Brown had to pull out of an upcoming fight against Bryan Barberena after testing positive, saying it had him fatigued for a couple of days and that he was too sick to do anything for about two days, but that he is fine otherwise. Diego Sanchez, however, is having a rough time as he’s been hospitalized with COVID-19 pneumonia, saying he’s developed blood clots in his legs and has had low oxygen numbers. Hopefully he pulls through. And, to answer the question, both have said publicly that they’re not vaccinated, with both stating they didn’t feel the need to get it.
- UFC 268 looks to have done 700,000 pay-per-view buys on ESPN+, and a little bit over 800,000 overall when you add in international pay-per-view buys. That is a huge success for the card, and it could’ve been higher had it not gone head-t0-head against a Canelo Alvarez boxing match.
Here are the fights that were announced over the past week:
- Brendan Allen vs. Chris Curtis — UFC Fight Night — December 4
- Jared Vanderaa vs. Azamat Murzakanov — UFC Fight Night — December 4
- Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Carlston Harris — UFC Fight Night — February 5
- Beneil Dariush vs. Islam Makhachev — UFC Fight Night — February 26 (MAIN EVENT)
- Hannah Goldy vs. Jinh Yu Frey — UFC Fight Night — February 26
- Edson Barboza vs. Bryce Mitchell — UFC 272 — March 5
Coming up this week
Here are the notable MMA events taking place this week:
- UFC is back this week with UFC on ESPN 31 on Saturday, December 4, from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. The entire card airs on both ESPN and ESPN+, with the main card taking place at 10 p.m. e.t., and prelims airing at 7:00 p.m. ET Rob Font takes on Jose Aldo in the main event.
- Bellator 272 is back on Friday, December 3, from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The main card airs at 10:00 p.m. ET. on Showtime, with prelims at 7:00 p.m. ET on YouTube. Bellator Bantamweight Champion Sergio Pettis defends against Kyoji Horiguchi in the main event.
- LFA 119 takes place on Friday, December 3, from Phoenix, Arizona, at 10:00 p.m. e.t., airing on UFC Fight Pass.
This week in MMA history
December 5, 2009 is a day that lives in UFC infamy for one particular reason, but is also known as a rather notable day in UFC history. It was the day that The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale took place, which was the finals of the all heavyweight season coached by Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Rashad Evans. The show was held at The Pearl at the Palms Casino & Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, with an attendance of 1,791 fans and a gate of $503,600.
In the main event, it was the finals of the season ten tournament as Roy Nelson knocked out Brendan Schaub in the first round to win a six-figure UFC contract. Nelson was far-and-away the most talented fighter on that season of The Ultimate Fighter, but he had to fight his way through the show as he didn’t have the typical look of your standard UFC fighter, and the promotion really had no interest in him, but he made it anyways and became a cult favorite for several years. Despite this fight being the official main event, the show is notable for two other reasons.
This show is best known as the day where Jon Jones suffered his only official loss of his career. He was dominating Matt Hamill in the first round, coming close to finishing him. However, while in the mount position throwing elbows, the fight was stopped by referee Steve Mazzagatti, who ruled that Jones had been landing illegal 12-to-6 downward elbows, and he ended up disqualifying Jones, giving Hamill the win and Jones his only career loss. The ruling is still disputed to this day, and many still believe and consider Jones to be undefeated.
Another notable fight on this show was the official UFC debut of underground fighting legend, the late Kimbo Slice. Slice would score the unanimous decision win over Houston Alexander, and would fight one more time inside the Octagon. Slice tragically passed away from heart failure in June 2016, and this went down as arguably the biggest win of his MMA career. Also on the main card, Frankie Edgar scored a submission win over Matt Veach in the second round, and Edgar would go on to become the UFC Lightweight Champion months later, winning a decision over B.J. Penn at UFC 112 in April 2010.
You can watch The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale on UFC Fight Pass here.
In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will talk a myriad of subjects, look ahead to UFC On ESPN 31 and Bellator 272, look back on all of the news and then tell you who to bet on this week if you want to blow a wad of cash. You can listen to In The Clinch on The Fight Game Media Network, available on all of your major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and our Patreon.